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to which may be added, a Chronicle by Cooper, afterwards a bishop, and one or two more mentioned in Nicolson's Historical Library. But, in 1548, the second year of Edward VI., a far more important accession was made to this branch of our literature, in the Chronicle of Thomas Hall, or, according to the original titlepage, The Union of the two Noble and Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York.' This began with the accession of Henry IV., in 1399, and ended with the death of Henry VIII. Hall himself died the year before the publication. Robert Grafton, an eminent printer, not only performed the office of an editor, but compiled, from Hall's manuscripts, the annals of about fifteen years. It is singular, that the last editor of Ames's Typographical Antiquities, copying apparently his immediate predecessor, should have said- He [Grafton] tells us himself that he wrote the greater part of Hall's Chronicles, but without particularizing how much.' Grafton is not only more precise than is here represented, but his precision entirely contradicts the editor's statement. 6 The author thereof,' he says, in his address to the reader, was a man, in the latter time of his life, not so painful and studious as before he had been; wherefore, he perfected and writ this history no farther than to the four-and-twentieth year of King Henry the Eighth; the rest he left noted in divers and many pamphlets and papers, 'which so diligently and truly as I could, I gathered the same together, and have, in such wise, compiled them, as may after the said years appear in this work, but utterly without any addition of mine.'
Bishop Nicolson observes of Hall, If the reader desires to know what sort of clothes were worn in each king's reign, and how the fashions altered, this is an historian for his purpose; but in other matters his information is not so valuable.'* This sentence is, in our opinion, by much too sweeping and novel. We do not perceive that Hall has any great excess of that petty information that the bishop derides as so trifling, though it is not without its use for several purposes; but a little more candour and attention would have shown him, that a considerable proportion of the knowledge we possess as to the internal history of England during the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. is due to this respectable chronicler, who has been largely copied by those who followed. It would be hard to say whom else we could vouch for the narrative of the different rebellions and insurrections under Henry VII., or for the tumultuous resistance of the citizens and commons to the illegal encroachments of Wol
* Nicolson's Hist. Library, p. 71.
sey. The truth of these facts is confirmed by contemporary letters and authentic records; but such documents rarely furnish the whole circumstances of a transaction, as we find them collected by the historian. Polydore Virgil, the only other writer who can be called original, is much inferior to Hall in credibility. The character of Hall is that of an honest and fearless simplicity, wherein it was very long before any one was found to equal him; if indeed, considering the change of times, it can be said that he ever had an equal.
We ought, perhaps, sooner to have mentioned the celebrated 'Pitiful Life of King Edward the Fifth,' by Sir Thomas More. But we have not been able to satisfy ourselves, without pretending, however, to have made a laborious search, as to the date of its earliest publication. It is printed in the folio edition of his works by Rastell, in 1557. But we also find it inserted verbatim in Hall's Chronicle, published, as has been said above, in 1548. Whether Hall, or his editor Grafton, had preserved the manuscript, or whether there is some earlier edition which we have not been able to trace, more learned antiquarians will determine. None is mentioned in Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities, containing a long list of the works that came from the presses of all known printers in that age, and especially of Rastell, brother-in-law of More: it seems plain also, from the historic doubts of Horace Walpole, that he did not know when the book was first published. We may add, that the marginal note in Hall rather leads us to presume, that the work of More then appeared for the first time. However this may be, it was probably written in More's youth, while he was under-sheriff of London: its composition has been referred by some to the year 1513. It is unnecessary to speak of the credibility of this narrative, which has encountered such severity from Walpole and Laing, some of whose strictures Mr Turner and Dr Lingard have shown to be unjust; but in its style it may be said to form a sort of epoch, especially if we suppose it to have been published not long after its composition, in our native literature. Unlike the senile laboriousness of Fabyan, it is written with manifest emulation of classical models;-it is ornata verbis, distincta sententiis, such as might be expected from the friend and pupil of Erasmus, taming a reluctant language to somewhat affected graces, and anticipating with uncertain endeavours the copiousness and harmony it was one day destined to display. It has been said to be unfinished, and this would afford a presumption that it was a posthumous publication; but the assertion does not seem well founded, the story terminating with the murder of the two princes in the Tower, beyond which there is no proof that he intended to carry it.
Grafton himself published an abridgement of the Chronicles of England in 1562; and Stow, a learned and diligent tailor of London, a summary of the same in 1565. Both works are dedicated to the Earl of Leicester, whose many faults were partially redeemed by a disposition to patronise learning. Grafton are said to have been jealous of each other's credit; there can, however, be no doubt of the former's superiority, though an unfortunate predilection for the more ancient church, so often suspected in our antiquarians since the Reformation, kept him under a cloud in his lifetime, and sometimes exposed his papers to the rude hands of pursuivants and messengers. In 1569, Grafton, who was printer to the Queen, put forth a Chronicle ' at large, and new History of the affairs of England, and Kings ' of the same, deduced from the creation of the world unto the 'first habitation of this island, and so by continuance unto the 'first year of the reign of our most dear and sovereign lady 'Queen Elizabeth.' This Chronicle of Grafton may be divided into two parts. In the first, from the creation of the world to the accession of Henry IV., being about one-third of the whole, he follows the Polychronicon of Higden, and Fabyan's Chronicle, with occasional assistance from Malmsbury, Hoveden, and other Latin historians of our country. Buchanan, according to Bishop Nicolson, calls him a very heedless and unskilful writer; a character which no one is likely to dispute. It may be added, rather as illustrative of the times than of Grafton's work, that he is one of the most cautious, if not dastardly, performers that ever undertook the annals of a free nation. We can hardly hope to be believed on our word, when we assert that, in writing the reign of John, he has made no mention whatever of Magua Charta; an omission of the part of Hamlet,' which can scarcely be imputed to mere confusion and ignorance. The following is a more definite instance of the queen's printer's cautiousness. At the year 1112 we read- At this time began the Parliament in 'England first to be instituted and advanced for reformation ' and government of this realm. The manner whereof, as I 'have found it set forth in an old pamphlet, I intend at large to 'set forth in the reign of King Edward III., where and when 'Parliaments were yearly and orderly kept.' In his preface, however, we find this noticed in the following words:- And 'where I have in the thirteenth year of King Henry I. promised to ' place the manner and order that was first taken for the holding of the Parliament in the time of King Edward the Third, I have 'since that time thought meet to omit the same, and therefore 'I admonish the reader not to look for it.' The rest of Grafton's Chronicle, from the accession of Henry IV., with the exception, of course, of the reigns of Edward VI. and Mary, is nothing
more than a republication of Hall, the differences being not so great as frequently take place in successive editions of the same work; in fact, we believe it would be found that Grafton did not insert any one phrase or sentence, though he softened in many places the warm and zealous language of his predecessor.
A more useful, laborious, and celebrated compiler of English affairs than Grafton, was Raphael Holingshed, who, after twentyfive years employed in the task for Wolfe the printer, brought out, in 1577, his Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, in two large volumes folio. This first edition is remarkably scarce. A second, in three volumes, appeared in 1587. Of this several sheets were suppressed by order of the Privy Council, but a very few copies escaped mutilation, and the obnoxious passages have been separately printed in later times. What is remarkable is, that no very obvious motive for this interference of the council appears on the face of them. Holingshed was assisted in this vast work by several coadjutors-Harrison, Hooker, (sometimes called Vowell,) Stanyhurst, Thyn, and Stow. In point of erudition they much exceed the preceding chroniclers; several Latin works are inserted in verbatim translations, and some degree of critical judgment is exercised upon the early and obscure periods of history. The most useful portions at present are the description of Britain, by Harrison, in the first volume, and the annals of Elizabeth's reign, by Holingshed himself, continued by Thyn and Stow. In these, however, for obvious reasons, nothing more than ordinary facts can be expected to appear. Like Grafton, though not so indiscriminately, he transcribes Hall; yet our modern historians are apt either to quote Holingshed alone, or to refer to both as distinct and independent sources.
The Acts and Monuments' of John Fox, more usually called his Book of Martyrs, must have a place among the principal historical works of the sixteenth century. None certainly can be compared to it in its popularity and influence. Four editions of these bulky folios were published in the reign of Elizabeth; the first in 1563. It may not be too much to say, that it confirmed the Reformation in England. Every parish (by order of the council, or the bishops, we forget which) was to have a copy in the church; and every private gentleman, who had any book but the Bible, chose that which stood next in religious esteem. Whatever be the amount of the mistakes into which the pretty common habit of assuming the truth of facts according to an estimate previously formed of the characters of those concerned in them may have led our worthy martyrologist, it is certain that we owe him thanks for collecting and inserting at length a great body of documents illustrative of our civil and ecclesiastical history.
In the long and, comparatively at least with former times, the learned reign of Elizabeth, no other contribution appears to have been made to the history of our own country in our own language, except a short work by Sir John Hayward, in 1599, entitled, The first part of the Life and Reign of King Henry IV., extending to the end of the first year of his reign.' This is deemed a rhetorical performance of little value, and chiefly remarkable for the persecution it brought upon him at the hands of that jealous government. Bacon, in his Apophthegms, relates a sally of his own wit, by which he saved the unfortunate author from his angry sovereign. The queen,' he says, asked Mr 'Bacon whether there were not treason contained in the book."Nay, madam," he answered, "for treason I cannot deliver my 'opinion that there is any, but very much felony." The queen, 6 apprehending it, gladly asked, "How and where ?" Mr Bacon answered, "Because he hath stolen many of his sentences and 'conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus." At another time, the queen threatened to have Hayward racked, to discover the real author, whom she suspected to be disguised. Bacon advised her rather to rack his style; to shut him up with pen, ink, and paper, and let him try if he could write like it. According to Camden, the offence was taken at the dedication to the Earl of Essex, wherein he was called Magnus et præsenti judicio, et futuri ' temporis expectatione.' Not having access to Hayward's book, we quote Camden's words in Latin. Hayward remained for a considerable time in prison.
The spirit of the Tudor government, evinced in this severity towards Sir John Hayward, as well as in the castigation of Holingshed's second edition, goes far to account for the paucity of English historical writers in the sixteenth century. Meanwhile, there was no deficiency of materials for men of learning, nor any want of interest among them for the preservation of the records of antiquity. Leland, Bale, Pitts, Tanner, Archbishop Parker, among others of less note, diligently laboured in collecting relics of past times, which the devastation committed among the monasteries rendered valuable by their scarcity, if not always by their importance. The public repositories were constantly searched by lawyers, and by those who sought arrows from the quiver of ancient precedent for the recovery of their constitutional privileges. Perhaps, indeed, the multiplicity of authentic records, and the practice of relying upon them in all legal and Parliamentary questions, rather tended to discourage the composition of regular history, wherein it was not so much the practice as at present to vouch the authorities on which it was founded. But the former cause had doubtless a more powerful efficacy.